How did Birmingham Comedy Festival start?

Established in 2001, the award-winning Birmingham Comedy Festival is one of the West Midlands longest running arts festival, and is believed to be the second longest running comedy festival in the UK.

But how did it all start?

Aussie comedy duo Supergirly (image from BCF 2001 brochure)

2001: A Comedy Odyssey

Birmingham Comedy Festival debuted in May 2001 and was an instant hit, thanks to appearances from Sean Lock, Frankie Boyle, Sandi Toksvig, and Jon Ronson, while Kathy Burke reunited with Gimme Gimme Gimme creator Jonathan Harvey for Out In The Open. Peter Kay even made an unannounced appearance with Mrs Barbara Nice, in a Kings Heath pub.

Local acts included Barbara, Jo Enright and James Cook, but also Reginald D Hunter (then living in Brum and just starting his stand-up career) and Natalie Haynes (perhaps better known today as a writer).

To find out more about the festival’s inception, read the full story: How Did Birmingham Comedy Festival start?

That first outing was such a success the festival returned in October 2002 … and 2003 … and is still going!

The front cover of the very first Birmingham Comedy Festival brochure. A rare item.
The designer, Paul, thought Comic Sans would be perfect. It was a different time.
The logo was never used again …

To find out more about Birmingham Comedy Festival, see:

The 20th anniversary festival runs from Friday 1 to Sunday 10 October 2021. The full line-up will be revealed on Thursday 5 August 2021.


For all media-related enquiries, including interview and image requests, please contact us using the form below. All ticket, event and business-related enquiries should be directed to the festival.